Ferrari 458 Italia

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

It is instructive to mark the arrival of Ferrari’s latest V8-powered, mid-engined two-seater by looking briefly back to its first. Some 35 years ago it was called the 308GTB and despite the fact that it was less powerful than Ferrari claimed, slower, tricky on the limit, cramped and inexactly constructed, it was welcomed then and is remembered now as one of Maranello’s great street cars.

It is a view with which I wholly concur. I’ve always thought pure pace an overrated pursuit as almost every car will one day seem slow by the standards of later generations; what endures are the way a car is styled, the feel of its interior, the sound of its engine and lucidity of its steering. In all these regards a 308GTB is as good now as it was in 1975.

The question is how its direct descendant, this new 458, will be judged by future generations.

The easiest aspect to judge is its looks, a subject upon which the views of an experienced road tester carry no more and possibly less weight than those of a small child. But having the mind of one and the heart of the other, I feel I can say I think it looks fabulous, the best clean-sheet Ferrari design since the 308GTB. The difference is the 308 was hewn from Pininfarina’s richest seam, which had delivered the Boxer, Daytona, Dino and perhaps prettiest of all the 365GTC/4. And that was just the Ferraris. By contrast Pininfarina’s recent work for Maranello has missed more often than it’s hit. But the language of the sleek, menacing, beautifully proportioned 458 speaks of a new design which, like all the best Ferraris, looks only forward.

Nor has Ferrari allowed the pace of change to slow when developing its mechanical specification. Its 4.5-litre engine is only half as big again as the 308’s, but it develops 570bhp, far more than double even the official and hopelessly optimistic 255bhp claimed for the 308. And while us schoolboys marvelled at the fact that the 308’s flat-plane V8 would spin safely at 7700rpm, the 458’s is no less comfortable at 9000rpm, a figure rivalled by no other remotely comparable car.

Allied to launch control and a seven-speed semi-automatic and seamlessly shifting transmission, it has nearly halved the amount of time a 308 needed to reach 60mph – 3.3sec has been seen in independent testing.

So it looks good and goes like hell – but the truth is that you could have said as much about most TVRs, most of which were dreadful cars. More is needed.

And, at first at least, the 458 seems disinclined to provide it. Ferrari has tried hard to evoke images of Formula 1 by loading the steering wheel with more buttons than any other car on sale and offering ancillary information by way of TFT screens, and while some will find this thrilling, I found it merely off-putting. If Ferraris really were all about driving, which is in fact a very simple business, it would follow the example of the best Porsches and place no such artificial barriers between you and it. In fact Ferrari knows a huge proportion of its customers buy into the brand for the image, the statement of wealth and the look on the faces of their friends when they see a driving environment superficially similar to that of a racing car.

But as I tentatively headed out onto British B-roads I discovered a Ferrari that, in one regard at least, does owe something to the past: unlike any of its brethren, it is a surprisingly difficult car to drive. On the road a Ferrari should never be an obedient servant, there to be bent to the driver’s every whim. A Ferrari should need taming, it should require both the respect and the undivided attention of its driver at all time. The 458 does.

It’s a wide car and one that tends to fidget over the lumps and bumps of British B-roads, even if you set the dampers as soft as possible. You can drive it slowly and while it is tolerant of such behaviour, it is not receptive to it. Given that all 458 owners will have an S-class Mercedes or similar at home, it is entirely appropriate for it to ask why you’ve woken it up if you’re not going to use it properly. It is not simply far faster than the F430 it replaces, it has a far harder core, too. Which is excellent.

Its problem on the road is environmental. Unlike the Editor my time with the 458 coincided not with the Circuito delle Madonie, but the roads of rural Leicestershire where any attempt to use the car’s performance merely shortened still further time spent between queues of traffic.

Then again, you tend not to stay stuck for long in one of these because all it takes is the shortest straight and a couple of tugs on the left-hand paddle and you’re not only past, but gone. And on those rare occasions where it could be driven as its makers intended, it was all you could hope a Ferrari might be. It was flashingly fast, of course, but also utterly thrilling. It communicates exactly how quickly you are travelling unlike others which remove you from the sensations of driving so much you can be genuinely surprised when you look at the speedo. Its brakes are flawless, its gearshifts instantaneous. The grip is so abundant and the safety systems so numerous and well tuned that only a lunatic would unstick it in the dry. It is, in short, a perfectly optimised Ferrari road car, all and more that the majority of its customers will be hoping for.

Almost. For just a few will venture out onto race tracks in their 458s, only to discover that a car that’s close to perfect on the public road can be some distance from it on a private track.

Essentially there are two issues working together if not to poison the experience of driving the 458 as fast as it will possibly go, then certainly to pollute it a little. First is the steering which, like all mid-engined Ferraris since power assistance was adopted for the F355 15 years ago, is lacking somewhat in feel. But its real problem is that it’s substantially too direct and aggressive, creating an unusually big reaction from the car to any given input. You notice it less on the road because you can get away with being less precise. But on the track where accuracy is everything it’s a needless annoyance, as if Ferrari had made it that way to make it feel sporting, in the same way Audi used to over-servo its brakes to make them feel better than they were. The second problem is that the transition from quite heavy understeer to fast-moving oversteer is too swift, making it a difficult car to balance where you want it, on the cusp between the two. On Ferrari’s advice I drove it in ‘race’ mode which left in place one final safety net to keep me out of the gravel, and I was grateful for it.

I’m pleased to say the 458 is a fine Ferrari, one of its very best in modern times. With slower steering it might make my top five road Ferraris of all time and even as it is its place in the top ten is secure. One thing’s for sure, the McLaren MP4-12C is going to have to be a landmark to beat it.

FACTFILE
ENGINE: 4499cc, V8 – 90°
TOP SPEED: 202mph
PRICE: £169,546
POWER: 570bhp at 9000rpm
FUEL/CO2: 20.6mpg, 307g/km
www.ferrari.com

Related articles

Related products